Boston Public Library
Teens

Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by Anna in Reviews - Staff

rogue crew       The Rogue Crew by Brian Jacques Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room This is the final story in the Redwall series. It chronicles a group of hares, shrews, sea otters and a few hedgehogs, as they race against time to reach Redwall Abby before the murderous vermin crew of the ship, Greenshroud. The ship and her wearat captain, Razzid, once thought to be defeated by fire, have returned, bigger and better than before. Now, the ship not only sails the seas, it has wheels that allow it to sail on land as well! Will the warrior hares from Salamandastron and the mighty sea otters of the High North Coast reach the Abby in time to save the good woodland creatures who live there? Or will more vermin along the way keep them from reaching their goal and their friends? I started reading this series nineteen years ago. Yes. You read that correctly. Nineteen years. The first book in the series, Redwall, was originally published in 1987, though I didn’t find it until a few years after that. The Rogue Crew (book #22) was first published in 2011. So you can see just how long this series has been going on. If it weren’t for the death of the author, Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes), this series would still be going on. This will always be one of my favorite series, and Brian Jacques will always be one of my favorite authors. Though he lived in Liverpool, England, I was lucky enough to get to meet him on three separate occasions and I can say he was an amazing person to listen to. His voice was as rich and deep as his stories. Did you know Redwall got started as a story for blind children? Jacques delivered milk to a blind school and wrote Redwall for them, making his style of writing as descriptive as possible so the children could see everything in their imaginations.  A former teacher of his eventually showed Redwall to a publisher without telling Jacques, and as they say, the rest is history. Because of his descriptive style, his work makes me feel like I’m in an adventure with all these different creatures who are kind, caring, tough, warrior-like, evil, mean, innocent, whatever words you can use to describe people, you can use to describe these creatures. I really do feel like I’m there, in the midst of a battle, or enjoying a huge feast on a beautiful summer evening. Though, one thing I adore about these books that tends to be a deal breaker for other readers, is the fact that each type of animal has its own way of speaking and Jacques uses that throughout all of the dialog. I see it as a fun time to learn how to speak like a mole or a hare. Others, find it distracting. If that is something that bothers you, this might not be the book for you. If it doesn’t, I urge you to check it out.  I can’t recommend these books highly enough, and I’m very sad to have finally reached the end. A note about the order of the books: Each book is its own story with its own set of characters. If you’re new to the series, you should start with either Redwall or Mossflower. Redwall was the first book published and Mossflower is the prequel. After that, you can read them in any order you like. I admit, they might get tiring after awhile if you attempt to read all 22 in a row, but take a long break and come back to them and you’ll remember why you enjoyed them so much when you first picked them up. To me, these are timeless classics set in their own fantasy world. Thirty, fifty, even perhaps one hundred years from now, I imagine they’ll still be readable and enjoyable by many and I hope they’re never forgotten by readers of all ages.

Seraphina – A Review

Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

Dragon shifters abound in this tale of a young woman who is half dragon and passing as human. Someone is threatening the 40-year-old treaty keeping peace between the dragons and the humans. But who would do such a thing? And why? And how can they be stopped? Those are the questions Seraphina longs to answer as she goes about her days as the court’s Music Mistress, working hard to put the program together for the Treaty Eve festival. However, memories her mother planted in her mind often get in the way and threaten to expose her for what she really is, something no one knows exists. With her life in danger, memories trying to swamp her mind, and visions getting out of hand, Seraphina is making friends in high places and hoping against all hope they don’t notice anything amiss.

I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters to really get into this book. But once I was in, I was in. I was really interested in the different characters Seraphina sees through her visions. I was especially drawn to Fruit Bat, a mute boy who seems to be the only one who responds to her attention, as if he is a real person who can interact with her. Yes, there is a romance in this book, yet it doesn’t overwhelm the plot at all. In fact, it’s so subtle, you might miss it, which makes for a nice breath of fresh air. It’s a fantasy like no other. Rachel Hartman has taken the classic character of the dragon and made it as unique as a fingerprint. She did a great job making them new, different, and extremely interesting. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes fantasy.

The end of the book leaves it open for a sequel which is slated to be released sometime in 2015. And any who enjoyed this first book might enjoy the 17 page prequel, which can be found for free here. Or by the link on the Goodreads page here.

Our TBOM discussion group will be talking about this very book on October 31st at 2pm!

Anyone interested in joining the discussion should request a copy

of the book, ebook, downloadable audio, or audio CD

through our online catalog, and have it read by the end of the month.

We will also be planning future reads at the end of the discussion so come ready to plan!

The Odyssey – A Review

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer

Read by Anna/Central Teen Room

The word “odyssey” means a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences, hardships, etc. The origin of this word stems from the epic poem Homer wrote depicting the long journey home of King Odysseus, known as The Odyssey. A whole twenty years prior to the start of the epic poem, Odysseus took soldiers to Troy in order to fight in the Trojan War. The trip should have been easy. He should have returned straight home to his wife and son on his native lands of Ithaca, but thanks to Zeus and the other Gods, the return journey was fraught with dangers and troubles. It took him ten years to get home, and lots of cunning to escape the fantastical creatures and Gods and Goddesses who wished to detain him. He went down into the darkness of the Underworld to talk with those who had died during the Trojan War. While he was known to be one of the best fighters in war, he fought a cyclops, not with swords, but with cunning words and actions. He told his men to lash him to the mast of the ship in order that he might hear the sirens call to him to turn the ship into dangerous waters bent on his destruction, but so that he would be able to do as they wished. Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, his wife was besieged with suitors who were eating her out of house and home, taking no cares in how many pigs and cows they slaughtered for their daily feasts and ignoring their own flocks. They each yearned for her to take another husband while it was assumed King Odysseus had been killed at war or on his return journey home. Queen Penelope held her ground and would neither wed another man nor send them away, leaving her son, Telemachus, to deal with them as best he could until his father could return home.

When I decided to reread this for my summer reading list this year, (I originally read it in 10th grade English, I think.) I decided to listen to the audio version for several reasons. Reason one being the long and unfamiliar names. When I read them in my head, I often change the pronunciation because I’m never sure what it should be. Having a narrator read to me, means the pronunciations will always remain the same. And reason two, the narrator was Sir Ian McKellen. Yep, that really awesome British actor who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and other great, well known characters. What better guy could you get to read the story of Odysseus? I ask you, and I doubt you’ll come up with one. If you do, you’ll have to let me know who it is. I found his voice was perfect for telling an epic tale. While he didn’t read it as more modern narrators will, giving different voices and accents to different characters, it wasn’t hard to determine who was speaking at all. I highly recommend this just for Ian McKellen’s voice alone. If this is something you have to read for school, the audio book just might help get you through it.

On one hand we have this amazing audio book, but on the other we must consider the epic poem written by Homer, that is so much more than just a plain old poem. It literally is an epic fantasy. It includes many Gods and Goddesses, a cyclops (a giant with one large, round eye in the middle of his forehead), sirens (sea nymphs, part woman and part bird, who lure mariners to destruction by their seductive singing),  a centaur (one of a race of monsters having the head, trunk, and arms of a man, and the body and legs of a horse), and many other characters Odysseus must fight against to win his freedom and be able to finish his journey home. While most of the story is told by different characters telling the story to others, it is certainly not boring by any sense of the word. Unless, of course, you aren’t into poetry, fantasy, adventures, and a little violence. (There are some pretty bloody battles that get depicted in this epic, especially toward the end.) If, however, these are things that do interest you, I urge you to check out this book, either in audio or in print. Minus any notes, appendixes, and introductions, the poem is roughly 400 pages and the audio book is around 13 hours. While that may seem like a long book, because it’s in poem format and because there are a lot of action scenes, the story seems to move at a quick pace for the most part. There’s a reason The Odyssey is continually reprinted and translated after it was initially written in either the late eighth or seventh century B.C. I really enjoyed rereading this, and getting myself reacquainted with the story years after my first reading, and I think you’ll like it too.

The Eyre Affair – A Review

Posted on July 15th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

Thursday Next is a Literary Detective. She tracks down stolen books. But this isn’t your garden variety detective novel. It’s easy to slip into a book and meet the characters. Likewise, it’s easy for characters to slip out of books and into our world. So, what happens when Jane Eyre gets kidnapped from her novel? Thursday Next is on the case and ready to get her back.

I started this book with high hopes. I love books. I love detective novels and mysteries. Putting them together, should then be a no-brainer for a fantastic book. Or a series. Unfortunately, right from page one, this book wasn’t doing anything for me. Jane Eyre doesn’t actually go missing until page 300 (out of 374). This baffled me, as the title suggests the first thing to happen on page one would be Jane going missing. A lot happens before she does go missing, though I felt like someone threw me in a bottle of soda and shook me up a little what with the time traveling, flash backs, visiting characters in books, book characters coming out of books, moving, meeting family, chasing a bad guy, getting shot, meeting old friends, meeting new coworkers… you get the idea. I also felt like I needed to research different events in history I was unfamiliar with, in order to understand whether the characters were talking about an altered event or the actual thing as it happened, and that threw me out of the story as well. If you’re a history buff, you shouldn’t have a problem with this aspect of it. That being said, I know people who have read, and enjoyed, the entire series. It seems to be one of those series you either like or you don’t. Someone said the reader probably needs to be in the right “head space” to read this and maybe that was part of my problem. I’m not really sure. All I know is that I just couldn’t get into it, and therefore, I ended up not enjoying it as much as I’d hoped to.

The Outside – A Review

Posted on May 27th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Outside

The Outside by Laura Bickle

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

The Outside is the sequel to The Hallowed Ones. This is a two book series about an Amish girl, Katie, who’s about to leave her community to spend a year outside, getting to know what the rest of the world is like before she makes the tough decision to be baptized into the Amish religion or to stay on the outside. However, Katie’s plans are abruptly changed when something horrible happens to the people outside her Amish community. Humans are being attacked by vampires and those that don’t die, are changed, forever seeking the blood of other humans, no matter what might get in their way. The gates to Katie’s community are closed. No one must get in and no one must leave. But what about the Amish who were caught out? How can they not let in friends and family when they come calling? And what about a stranger who arrives wounded? Katie isn’t sure what’s keeping the vampires out of her community, but she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way, but she’s sure the stranger isn’t a vampire. He’s just a young man in great need of help. Her actions spark the elders in her community to cast her out, along with a rescued horse, the young man, Alex, and a mother from the outside who’d been caught in the community when the gates were closed.

Now, in the second book, Katie, Ginger, Alex, and the horse, now named Horace, are on their own, doing their best to survive in a vampire riddled world, where the darkness means certain death, and even holy ground isn’t always so holy anymore. Together, they fight the darkness, make new friends they never would have otherwise, and even lose one of their own. When Katie returns to her community, she finds that things have changed, and yet, not nearly as much as she has. Will she and her friends be able to find the answers and destroy the vampires? Or is this truly the end of the world as we know it?

Both of these books were super fantastic. Yes, there are some religious overtones, however, they aren’t there to hit the reader over the head with it. I’m not a fan of religious fiction, but I enjoyed learning about the ancient religions of the world as Alex tells the stories he learned in college. He and Katie have an ongoing debate as to what’s going on in the world, is it God’s wrath or a disease that’s wiping out humanity? It’s a healthy debate, as there might not be a true answer by the end of the book. I only had one problem with this book and that was that Alex’s original plans to find his family are aborted toward the end. I’m glad he sticks with Katie, but I’d been wondering about his family and whether or not they survived. I enjoyed the romance, and the fact that it wasn’t the usual romance seen in YA novels these days. Very well done. And last, but not least, this second book was freakin’ creepy! I’m not normally afraid of the dark, and I’ve read scary books before bed in the past. But this one, I was loathe to read right before turning out the light. Those vampires are like no vampires I’ve read about before! Certainly no Lestat, or Edward Cullen for sure!

I highly recommend this if you like creepy stories and a very light romance. If you’re not into religion, that’s okay too. You can still read it, and enjoy it. I know I did.

the hallowed ones